The Lithium Element – Enabler of the Energy Transition

Aug 30, 2021

The European Chemical Society, EuChemS, organised the webinar ‘The Lithium Element – Enabler of the Energy Transition‘, which was held on Wednesday 1 December 2021, from 10:00 to 16:30 CET.  

This webinar was chaired by Professor Nicola Armaroli (member of the EuChemS Executive Board).

This online event is an initiative designed by the EuChemS Periodic Table Task Group. The Task Group is chaired by Nicola Armaroli and its members are David Cole-Hamilton, Christophe Copéret, Nineta Hrastelj, Rinaldo Poli, Floris Rutjes, and Alessandra Quadrelli as a guest. The webinar is organised by the EuChemS Secretariat, Laura Jousset being the coordinator. 

This webinar echoes the successful workshop on the Carbon Element organised by EuChemS on 22 April 2021 (read more about it here). 

Objectives of the webinar 

The 2030 European climate and energy framework calls for enhanced electrification in final energy uses (e.g., transport, heat) to be accomplished by renewable electricity, primarily via wind and photovoltaic technologies. The intrinsic daily and seasonal variability of wind and  sunlight  will require a large deployment of storage capacity, most of which is expected to be electrochemical. In an increasingly electrified world, lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are expected to play a highly relevant role both in the storage and in the mobility sector. Accordingly, the lightest metal element, lithium, is a key enabler for the ongoing energy transition.  

The scope of the webinar is to answer some key questions such as: Are there enough lithium resources on Earth? Will the rush to lithium generate new geopolitical tensions? Are there viable alternatives to lithium-ion batteries (LIBs)? To what extent can we push battery recycling? And, last but not least: What is the appropriate color of Lithium in the EuChemS periodic table? 

Programme outline

Chaired by Nicola Armaroli

10:00 to 12:30 CET

13:30 to 16:30 CET

– Welcome 10:00 – 10:10
Floris Rutjes, EuChemS President
– MEP Speech: Energy transition and circular economy – the new EU Sustainable Batteries Regulation 10:10 – 10:20
MEP Simona Bonafè
– Developments of the EuChemS periodic table 10:20 – 10:40
David Cole-Hamilton, University of St. Andrews
– Lithium: reserves, resources and geopolitical issues 10:40 – 11:00
Fernando Rocha, University of Aveiro
– Lithium-ion batteries in the automotive sector 11:10 – 11:30
Kristina Edström, University of Uppsala
– Lithium batteries and the stationary applications 11:30 – 11:50
Luigi Lanuzza, Enel X
Panel discussion 11:50 – 12:30
led by Katharine Sanderson, Science Journalist and Editor
– Alternatives to Lithium-ion batteries: Progress in sodium-ion batteries 13:30 – 13:50
Philipp Adelhelm, Humboldt-University of Berlin
– Recycling Lithium-ion batteries 13:50 – 14:10
Paul Anderson, University of Birmingham
–  Glass – the Handheld Lithium 14:10 – 14:30
John C. Cochran, Corning Inc., Lexington, KY, USA
– How can the EU ensure a secure and sustainable supply of raw materials for the energy transition? 14:40 – 15:00
Daniel Cios, European Commission – DG Growth
Panel discussion 15:00 – 15:40
led by Nicola Armaroli, CNR/EuChemS (Chair)
– Closing 15:40 – 16:00
Floris Rutjes, EuChemS President
Nicola Armaroli, CNR/EuChemS (Chair)

Nicola Armaroli got the Ph.D. in Chemical Sciences in 1994 at the University of Bologna. Since 2007 he has been Research Director at CNR, the Italian National Research Council. He is member of the Italian National Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC). Within EuChemS, he is the former chairman of the Working Party on Chemistry and Energy and has served as EuChemS representative on several occasions such as the overseas Circular Economy Missions of the European Commission. He serves as associate editor of Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences (Springer Nature), member of the Editorial Board of Chemistry-A European Journal (Wiley-VCH) and Polyhedron (Elsevier Science) as well as director of Sapere, the first Italian science periodical, established in 1935.

His scientific activity is concerned with photochemistry and photophysics, in particular luminescent materials and systems for the conversion of light into electricity and fuels. He also studies the transition of the global energy system towards more sustainable models, also in relation to climate change and scarcity of natural resources. He has published over 220 scientific papers and several books on the subject of energy.

Nicola Armaroli has given invited lectures at international conferences, universities and research centers worldwide and has run international projects as CNR principal investigator or coordinator in the frame of several programmes funded by the European Commission. He is also an active consultant and science communicator for the general public on the issues of energy, natural resources, and environment, also through interviews and contributions on mass media.

He was awarded the Grammaticakis-Neumann International Prize in Photochemistry, the Premio Letterario Galileo for science dissemination, the Gold Medal Enzo Tiezzi of the Italian Chemical Society and the Ravani-Pellati Chemistry Prize of the Turin Academy of Sciences.

Floris Rutjes, EuChemS President

Floris Rutjes (1966) received his PhD at the University of Amsterdam in 1993 under the supervision of the late Prof. Speckamp. After a post-doctoral stay with Prof. Nicolaou at The Scripps Research Institute (La Jolla, USA) and an assistant-professorship at the University of Amsterdam, he became full professor in organic synthesis at Radboud University (Nijmegen, NL) in 1999. His research interests comprise the synthesis of biologically active heterocyclic molecules, new bioorthogonal click-probes for chemical ligation, and continuous flow synthesis in microreactors. He has received several awards including the Gold Medal of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society (2002), the AstraZeneca Award for Research in Organic Chemistry (2003), and in 2008 was announced ‘Most entrepreneurial scientist of the Netherlands’. Currently, he is Director of the Institute for Molecules and Materials at Radboud University, past-president of the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society (KNCV) and president of the European Chemical Society (EuChemS).

Simona Bonafè, MEP

Simona Bonafè ran for her second mandate as a member of the European Parliament in May 2019. As head of list of the Italian Democratic Party (PD) she was the most voted among the elected members in her Constituency.

In the European Parliament, she is the Vice president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats (S&D) in charge of Parliamentary Affairs and Interinstitutional Relations. She sits as Member in the Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), and as Substitute Member in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). Contact Person for relations with EFSA for the EP. She is Member of the Delegation for relations with the People’s Republic of China (D-CN). She is co-chair and co-founder of the Parliamentary “Sustainable, Long Term Investment and Competitive European Industry” Intergroup.

She has been the European Parliament Rapporteur for the revision of the four directives contained in the Circular Economy Package and for the Water Reuse Regulation. She is currently Rapporteur for the Sustainable Batteries Regulation.

Before the European Parliament, MEP Bonafè was elected to the Italian Lower Chamber in 2013, sitting in the Committee for Economic Activities and Trade. Prior to that, for over 10 years she was engaged in local politics in Tuscany, where she served as Municipal Council Member for Environment.

Philipp Adelhelm, Humboldt-University of Berlin

Philipp Adelhelm is a professor for physical chemistry at Humboldt-University Berlin and leads a joint research group on operando battery analysis at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin. One of his main interest is the comparison of Li-ion with Na-ion battery technology.

Paul Anderson, University of Birmingham

Paul Anderson is Professor of Strategic Elements and Materials Sustainability in the School of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham and Co-Director of the Birmingham Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials. He is also Principal Investigator for the Faraday Institution ReLiB project dedicated to the development of new technology for efficient end of life management of automotive lithium ion batteries. The synthesis and development of improved materials for energy applications has been the major focus of his research for over two decades, with particular interests in ion mobility in hydrogen storage materials and related lithium and proton electrolyte systems, and the efficient husbandry of the earth’s elemental resources. Paul was academic lead for the Birmingham Policy Commission Securing Technology Critical Metals for Britain, chaired by former government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir John Beddington, and is a member of Innovate UK’s Sustainable Battery Steering Group and the Faraday Institution’s Expert Panel. Earlier this year he gave evidence to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on ‘the role of batteries and fuel cells in achieving net zero’.

Daniel Cios, European Commission – DG Growth

Daniel Cios got interested in raw materials markets and policy during his studies in European affairs in 2010. In his research, he took up the research question on how the EU could ensure supplies of rare earths. At that time, he did not expect that this academic interest would continue in his future professional career. First, by being a consultant on issues related to supplies of raw materials and performing economic and technological analysis of various innovative projects that gave him an understanding of the industry. Later on, in the public sector in the European Commission, which he joined in 2018. He is placed in the unit for Energy Intensive Industries and Raw Materials in the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. His main responsibilities are EU activities on raw materials, particularly for batteries and EU Horizon Europe framework program on R&I in the area of raw materials.

During the webinar organised by the European Chemical Society, Daniel will and give a presentation on How can the EU ensure a secure and sustainable supply of raw materials for the energy transition?

John C. Cochran, Corning Inc., Lexington, KY, USA

John C. Cochran holds a Bachelor of Science in Ceramic Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology. In 2005, he joined Corning Incorporated in Lexington (USA) as a Melting Process Engineer. Then, he held a variety of progressively responsible roles. He is is currently Manager, Gorilla Glass® Raw Materials and Glass Technology.

David Cole-Hamilton, University of St. Andrews

Following degrees (BSc and PhD) at Edinburgh University, David Cole-Hamilton worked with Nobel Laureate, Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson at Imperial College, where he developed a strong interest in organometallic chemistry and especially homogeneous catalysis. His independent career started at Liverpool University (Lecturer and Senior Lecturer) before moving to be Professor of Chemistry at the University of St. Andrews in 1985. He became Emeritus in 2014.

David is a past President of the European Chemical Society (EuChemS) having been President from 2013-7. This gave him extensive contact with chemical societies and policy makers throughout Europe. On behalf of EuChemS he led a team celebrating the International Year of the Periodic Table, which developed a new version of the Periodic Table highlighting element availability and vulnerability as well as which elements can come from conflict minerals and which appear in smart phones.

Kristina Edström, University of Uppsala

Kristina Edström is professor of inorganic chemistry at Uppsala University Sweden and director of the large-scale European research initiative BATTERY 2030+. BATTERY 2030+ is positioned as a long-term research community in Europe with the mission to “reinvent the way we invent the batteries of the future”. She studies Li-ion batteries, Na-ion batteries, solid-state batteries. and other new sustainable battery chemistries. Kristina Edström’s particular interest is to study interfaces between materials and components and she has developed in situ/operando techniques. Kristina Edström leads the Ångström Advanced Battery Centre. She has more than 300 scientific papers with an H-index of 69. She is elected member of the Royal Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) where she also is a board member. She is elected member of the Royal Academy of Sciences (KVA), honorary doctor at NTNU, Norway, she received the KTH grand prize, the gold medal from IVA and she is a Wallenberg Scholar. She is scientific coordinator of Batteries Sweden and a trustee in the board of Faraday Initiative UK.

Luigi Lanuzza, Enel X

Luigi Lanuzza holds a Master Degree in Electronic Engineering from University of Messina and a Master in Photovoltaic Engineering magna cum laude from University of Rome – Tor Vergata.

After having worked in the University of Pisa as associate researcher, he moved to the semiconductors manufacturing industry.

In 2009, he joined Enel Green Power (EGP), as part of the development and of the construction teams of the PV modules factory 3SUN. Then, in 2012, he was part of the startup of EGP activities in South Africa, managing the development of several large scale Solar projects.

In 2013 he moved to the Innovation department of EGP, managing the program of the first EGP storage pilot projects, as Head of Energy Storage.

Since July 2017 Luigi is part of Enel X, the new division of Enel group focused on advanced energy services and products, developing cross-technologies integrated solutions, where he’s currently Head of B2C and B2B Innovation Factory.

Luigi is proud Fellow of Enel Foundation. Also, Luigi is member of the Executive Board of the Battery European Partnership Association (BEPA) and Chair of WG6 of ETIP – Batteries Europe.

Fernando Rocha, University of Aveiro

Fernando Rocha obtained his degree in Geology from the University of Lisbon in 1984, and his PhD in Geosciences (Geology) from the University of Aveiro in 1994, and his DSc (Habilitation) in Geosciences (Clay Science) from the University of Aveiro in 2000. He is currently full professor (Mineral Resources, Geosciences Department) since 1August 2002 and Director of the GEOBIOTEC Research Centre since 2007.  

He has held several positions at the University of Aveiro, including: Head of the Department of Geosciences (1998 to 2002, 2011 to 2015), Pro-Rector (infrastructures and Campii management, 2003 to 2007) and Vice-Rector (research, innovation and technology transfer, 2008 to 2010).  

After a brief passage (1984/85) by the private sector of public works as Engineering Geologist, he has developed his academic career at the University of Aveiro since 1986, with scientific and pedagogical activity in the fields of mineral resources, marine and coastal geology, and medical and environmental geology. He supervised 6 Postdocs, 27 PhDs and 41 MSc thesis and published 247 papers indexed on Science Citation Index (h-Index=29)

Katharine Sanderson, Science Journalist and Editor

Katharine Sanderson got her BSc and MRes degrees in chemistry from Imperial College, and her PhD in organometallic chemistry from Cambridge University. She switched to science journalism whilst working at the Royal Society of Chemistry, where she was a features editor and science correspondent for Chemistry World magazine. She then worked for the international science journal Nature for several years as a news reporter and editor, covering the physical sciences. She has a varied and successful freelance career, writing for publications including: Nature, New Scientist,Chemistry World, C&EN, BBC and more. Katharine also teaches science writing to undergraduates at the University of Leeds and Kings College London. She is on the executive board of the Association of British Science Writers.


In 2019, we issued the periodic table of the relative abundance of chemical elements, in an effort to raise society’s awareness of the limited mineral resources available on Earth. It has received remarkable attention worldwide by the scientific community, the general public and public agencies and has been widely distributed in European secondary schools. The table is a living document, to be periodically updated in the light of developments that may affect the availability or status of specific elements. In this context, EuChemS promotes the discussion between the scientific, industrial, and political community to check if colors of specific elements need revision.

Page last updated: 9 December 2021